Jasmine all of a quiver

It’s been quite a week hasn’t it- politically that is.  Have MPs at last had the chance to vote with their brains and consciences? I think a lot have. Seeing off May’s plan and the No Deal option are a start, asking the EU for an extension is the next. Now all they have to do is force a referendum and we have the opportunity to put across to the people what the EU does for us and why we should remain a part of it. Some will be unhappy and may even try to cause disruption but that was going to happen whatever the outcome was.  I have fingers, and other bits of me, crossed but it is dreadfully close to the deadline and as I have said before it is criminal that things should have been allowed to reach this impasse.

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I was at a conference earlier this week at a certain university. It was reporting on and promoting a short course on “Transgender” for staff and students. The writing team seem to have done a good bit of work but we weren’t allowed a look at the course itself. None of the team were apparently trans themselves (who can tell?) but at least one had close contact with someone who had transitioned. There were talks from a couple of trans and non-binary people and from a headmaster coping with the problems of having pupils transitioning (the pupils aren’t the problem; parents of other pupils are.)  I did worry that a somewhat stereotypical picture of gender was presented. One of the speakers who had done the course, reported a session where they were asked to place themselves on a gender spectrum (1 to 12) on the basis of certain traits e.g. the length of their hair, whether they liked classic cars or football. Now this may have been an ironic take on stereotyping, but it caused me to raise my eyebrows.

The audience was largely cis-people for organisations who may adopt the course for their students or staff. There were a few trans people – at least ones I suspected of being trans. There were very few questions asked and no opinions or comments from the floor. The team were a bit self-congratulatory which seemed somewhat premature and based only on the evaluation of the pilot of the course with a small number of students and staff.  I heartily endorse the need for something like this course to help spread understanding but not being able to examine the content made it a little pointless.

WP_20181120_11_51_39_ProI am increasingly upset that the focus is almost always on trans people who wish to transition fully to the binary gender they identify with. That’s fine but we also need much more understanding about what it means to be non-binary and how it is viewed by society. As a case in point – I tried out the “facilities” at the venue. There were male toilets and female toilets and a door advertising that it was for those that required a non-gendered space. It turned out to be the room for those with disabilities. I took exception to that because a) I do not need a special loo, and b) I don’t want to be in a position of preventing someone who does need them from gaining access.  So even the most trans aware organisations need to think a bit more clearly.

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This week’s bit of writing needs some explanation. At last week’s writers’ group meeting we were introduced to something called a Writers’ Toolbox. I’m not sure whether it is simply a game or whether it is actually intended as a stimulus to writers. We didn’t know the rules exactly (rules? For writing?) so I took three sticks which I thought provided a first sentence, a last sentence and one for in between which sort of  provided a fulcrum for the plot. The story below is the result with the relevant sentences coloured. I didn’t have a lot of time so my effort rather shoehorns the sentences together. I have since learned that the last sentence, isn’t.

It’s the Turtles

My brother did this weird thing with turtles. Some people like eating them. Me? I just enjoyed watching them, and so did Herb, my little bro, at the beginning.
We have a house, well, it’s more of a shack, right on the beach. So we’re right there when the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. They do it at night of course to avoid predators but we’re there watching, sometimes until dawn. Their slow, agonising crawl ashore is almost painful to watch. I often had the urge to run on to the sand and give them a lift, but we didn’t. Once they’ve decided they’re far enough from the high-water line they dig their shallow nests in the sand. Their flippers aren’t really designed for scooping sand, but they just get on with it. Then they lay their eggs, dozens to each female. They’re all females of course. The males stay way out at sea.  Weeks later we watch the little turtles scramble up to the surface and scamper, slowly, for the safety of the sea. Many are picked off by seabirds but others make it.
First it was me and Dad who were the watchers. Then Herb joined us. After Dad died it was just the two of us. A couple of years ago we were following the leatherbacks returning to the ocean when we came across one that was struggling. The old girl was barely making any progress.
“Shall we help her,” Herb asked.
“No, we mustn’t interfere,“ I replied. “Either she makes it or she doesn’t. That’s life.”
The turtle stopped. We waited and watched but there was no movement, not even a flick of a flipper
“Is she dead?” Herb asked.
I crouched down and examined her. She looked dead. I gave her a prod with a finger. No reaction.
“I think so,” I decided.
“We can’t leave her,” Herb cried, “the gulls were peck at her. She’ll be a mess.”
“That’s how it goes,” I said, shrugging.
“No. I’m going to stuff her.” Herb bent down and picked up the leatherback. I don’t know how he did it. He was a scrawny kid and the turtle was heavy. Nevertheless, he lugged the carcase back to the house. Ma didn’t complain at all when Herb came in with a turtle in his arms. Mind you she was out of it as usual. I tried saying you can’t keep a dead turtle in the freezer, but Herb was determined. He googled “stuffing dead animals” and picked up lots of stuff on taxidermy. He watched hours of YouTube seeing how it was done. Then he started. I was surprised at how good he was. Even that first leatherback looked as though she was in the prime of life when he’d done with her. Herb became obsessed with making the dead look as though they were still alive. He became pretty expert at it and started making some much-needed cash selling his dead animals – mainly marine creatures such as the turtle and fish. He was pretty organised and made sure the freezer didn’t ice up while the animals waited to be dealt with. I preferred watching the turtles in life even if it meant seeing them die.
The number of turtles was falling. I knew that as well as their natural predators there were human ones. Some poachers trapped the adult turtles in the shallow water and others would dig up their eggs. They were the same I decided. Both were driving the creatures to extinction.
Herb was as annoyed about it as I was. We agreed we had to do something. We decided to patrol the beach after the eggs had been laid. One night we came across a bunch of guys digging the eggs up. I might have had words with them, but Herb launched himself at them. One of them pulled a gun. The sound of the shot must have been heard miles out at sea. Herb fell onto the sand. The poachers scarpered. I pulled Herb back to the house, but I knew it was no good. He was as much a goner as that leatherback.
The cops came, took a few notes but didn’t do much. Herb’s body was taken away. Me and Ma were left with our grief and a freezer of dead animals frosting up. I couldn’t deal with them the way Herb defrosted the refrigerator.

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Jasmine at the Museum

An evening in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff made a pleasant change to watching the continuing chaos on the news. The Museum event was part of the Cardiff Science Festival and I was helping the RSC (that’s the Royal Society of Chemistry) interesting children and their parents in chemistry.  We had a variety of activities for them to join in, mostly set at about Year 7 level (or younger) although one required the children to offer an explanation for how glowsticks work. Tthey weren’t expected to understand the more advanced aspects of chemiluminescence, but getting  them to describe what they saw other than saying “the light switched on” was difficult.  The Museum was packed with well over a thousand participants and they all seemed interested in our activities and the others that were going on.  I do have to say though that I was disappointed in children’s knowledge and understanding of acids, alkalis and indicators, even the older ones.

Another part of the evening was using my half hour off explaining chemistry to view the Leonardo drawings that the Museum has temporarily on loan, celebrating  the 500 year anniversary of his death. The drawings on show were largely anatomical but with some other sketches of plans for statues, and a map. It was marvellous to get up really close to these originals and examine Leonardo’s intricate and accurate diagrams. As well as his skill in drawing the depth of his analysis of his observations was quite breath-taking.

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WP_20190221_12_01_42_ProI have just had a statement from Amazon for the first month’s e-book sales of Molly’s Boudoir.  By Jasmine’s standards they weren’t bad but of course they haven’t continued at the same level because I have yet to discover how to spread word about the book (and the other Jasmine Frame titles) as widely as is necessary. I’m still in need of bright ideas or a publisher willing  to take them on and promote them. As I showed last week, the reviews are good. I still don’t believe that they belong in the tiny niche of transgender fiction. Jasmine is trans and so is the victim but the plot is crime.

And so to this week’s story. This one kills to two birds with one stone – not literally.  It fulfils both the criteria for my weekly writers’ group i.e. include the phrase “and that is why. . .” and that of my monthly group’s title “Window of Opportunity.” This time I adopted the style of an allegory. I’m told it works quite well.

Window of Opportunity: An Allegory

A long time ago I met a wise old man. He may not have been very old and may not have been a man, but he spoke wisely. He asked me what I wanted from life and I replied, that I wished to be recognised for something that I had achieved.
“Oh, you want to be famous,” the wise old man said.
“Not a celebrity who’s famous for being famous,” I said. “I want to do something special.”
“Ah,” he said, nodding sagely, “You need the Window of Opportunity.”
“I suppose so,” I said, not fully understanding what he had said.
“That is a long and difficult journey.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, thinking he had been speaking figuratively.
“To where?” I asked.
“The Tower of Ambition,” he replied, “At the top of the tower you will find the Window of Opportunity.”
“Oh,” I said, somewhat surprised by what he was saying. “And where is this tower.”
“It is at the heart of the Forest of Endeavour, sometimes known as the Jungle of Responsibility.”
I had not heard of such a place. It was nowhere close, that was certain.
“And how do I get there?” I asked.
“Across the Sea of Expertise at the edge of the Ocean of Learning,” he replied.  I did at least know where the ocean was.
“You think travelling all that way is worth the effort?” I said rather doubtfully.
“If you avoid the Desert of Despond and the Depression of Depression, you will find what you seek,” he answered. I was intrigued to find out what he meant and eager to achieve my goal, and that is why I embarked on my journey.
I set out in a small boat across the ocean. During much meandering, I acquired knowledge of astronomy and weather, the skills of navigation, of handling and maintaining my craft and an understanding of the variety and characteristics of marine life. At last I entered the Sea of Expertise where I was beset by calms and buffeted by fierce storms. I had to fight against the wind to at last reach shore.
There I left my boat and set off inland. The Forest covered the continent with trees of every description from tall pines to broad oaks. I followed paths, coming across peoples who welcomed me and looked after me in return for my willingness to assist them. I enquired about the location of the Tower of Ambition but, while many knew of its existence, they could only give me the vaguest of directions. I stayed for a while but then the urge to continue my journey grew strong and I moved on.
One day the trees began to thin allowing the hot Sun to shine directly on me. I hadn’t come across people for a while and was running short of supplies. As I stood by the last tree I looked out on a barren rocky plain. In the distance I could see movement and colour. It appeared to me as a place of civilisation, somewhere to restock my rations.  I set off under the open sky. Soon I was hot and sweaty, I walked on, but my destination seemed as distant as ever. My legs became heavy and my clothes irritated my skin. I felt exhausted by the endless expanse of dry rock. It was then that I remembered the wise old man’s warning. I must be in the Desert of Despond. I turned and headed back the way I had come. I almost ran in my desire to get back amongst the trees.
Not long after I returned to the forest, I came across a community. They were friendly and took me in.  In my first few days one of their number took an interest in me. We became friends, companions, lovers. I worked and soon was accepted as an essential contributor to the village’s welfare. I was happy with my partner and my employment and the friends we had but still the urge remained to find the Tower of Ambition. It became something I had to do. My partner agreed to let me continue with my quest. I promised I would return and set off again.
Once more I travelled along tracks beneath the trees.  The path rose and fell but never became difficult.  That is, until I realised that the route I was following had been descending for some distance. My way was becoming steeper.  I had to watch where I put my feet as the surface become rough and uneven. I stumbled and grabbed hold of a branch to prevent my fall. I seemed to be heading deeper and deeper into a gorge.  Cliffs closed over me shutting out the sky. I could barely see my way in the dark. The weight of the overhanging rock pressed on me.
As I attempted to negotiate an almost vertical stretch I paused. I thought about what I was doing and where I was. This must be the Depression of Depression that the wise old man had warned me of. I was not getting anywhere by continuing down into the dark, cold depths. I turned and began to climb. It was difficult and hard work but slowly I returned to the light and warmth and found where I had missed a turning. I resumed my search for the Tower of Ambition.
I came upon it quite by surprise. From dense jungle I stepped into a clearing and there was the stone tower. It had a broad conical base which curved to become a straight spear that pierced the sky. Even though I bent my head back as far as it would go, I could not see the top of the tower. There was an entrance at ground level, a narrow opening that admitted just one person at a time. There was no-one else there, so I stepped inside. The helical staircase began immediately. I started to climb. I did not count the steps, but I am sure I would have soon lost count. The staircase spiralled up and up. I lifted one foot after the other and plodded on. There were no windows but just enough light from some diffuse source to allow me to see where to put my feet.
I lost track of time but mechanically took one step after another. Hours, perhaps days, passed as I climbed. No-one descended. At last I emerged into a room the full width of the tower. There were no other exits and it was empty. There was a polished wooden floor and an arched roof above me.  Piercing the wall on all sides were sixteen large glass windows.
I stood there at the centre of the room for a few moments taking in the realisation that these must be the Windows of Opportunity. They must show me how to achieve my goal.  I turned, taking in the panoramic view from the window but all I could see was sky as blue and cloudless as it could possibly be.  I hurried to the edge of the room to peer out and down.
The tower was so tall and the atmosphere so clear that it seemed that I could see the whole world. Far below was the canopy of the forest that enclosed the base of the tower. I was disappointed. I had come all this way and all I got was a nice view. Where were the opportunities I sought? I looked at the scene more thoroughly.  The forest receded into the distance but nevertheless I could see a line of darker blue on the horizon. It was the sea. There on the coast I had left my boat and never used the knowledge and skills I learned crossing the ocean again.
Although the trees grew close, I fancied I could discern the route I had taken. I recognised the different trees, the landmarks. I moved around the room looking out of each of the sixteen panes of glass. There in the distance was the featureless plain of the Desert of Despond.  On the other side of the tower from the ocean was the deep rift of the Depression of Depression. It appeared that in my wanderings I had circled the tower at least once.
I walked around gazing out in all directions, looking near and far. The wise old man had called this the Window of Opportunity, the chance to see where I could make my mark in life. Where was it?
Then, down below and not too far away I saw a thin cloud of smoke rising. I recognised it as the site where I had settled; where my partner awaited my return. It was where I had been happy and fulfilled.  Realisation came to me. The window did indeed reveal all the world where every opportunity one could wish for existed. Only fools spent their lives following a needless search for the Window of Opportunity at the top of the Tower of Ambition. Most were content labouring in the Forest of Endeavour.
I went to the top of the stairs and hurried down. There seemed fewer steps on the descent and I quickly reached the ground. I ran into the forest. I knew the direction I needed now. I went straight to the settlement and there my partner welcomed me with a hug while the friends I had left celebrated my return. There I lived, content that I had achieved my goal.
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Jasmine, the future

No, I can’t comment, I won’t; politics is beyond satire, and it certainly isn’t funny anymore.

So, something completely different. I read an article in New Scientist magazine this week about discoveries in the Amazon (that’s the South American rainforest not the bloated parasite of a retailer).  For centuries it was thought that the jungle was the last natural wilderness only inhabited by small, scattered primitive tribes, and that conditions were unsuitable for a civilisation to be established amongst the trees.  The fabled lost cities, Eldorado and Z, were simply fables. Now it seems evidence had been found that, in fact, the Amazon was home to tens of millions of people in a network of cities connected by wide well-made roads. The civilisation began to decline after about 1000AD and collapsed and disappeared with the coming of Spanish and Portuguese explorers/invaders. What the evidence shows is a civilisation  unlike any other around the world.  It was not based on metropolitan centres depending on farming of a few staple crops such as grain or rice.  Golden Eldorado is indeed a myth.

Instead, the cities consisted of loose groups of villages or small towns (garden suburbs if you like) connected by a network of roads. They were built in the jungle not obliterating it. Crops such as cassava, but numbering up to a hundred different types, were grown amongst the trees.  The trees themselves were the biggest resource providing food and materials. The people don’t seem to have farmed grazing animals much if at all, but did catch and farm fish in the many rivers that cross the vast region.  They did not use metals or stone but built with mud and wood. For thousands of years the people lived sustainably within their jungle environment. It’s not known why the civilisation fell and was forgotten. Perhaps the population slowly grew till it reached the limits of sustainability; and then the Europeans arrived with their diseases.

The story tells us a number of things.  First, nowhere on Earth has not been altered or affected by humans. It seems even the Amazon rainforest has been modified and changed by human use. Secondly, the rainforest can sustain a sizeable population especially if it is not torn down and burnt to provide land for the short-lived production  of cash crops. Thirdly, people are resourceful. They have found ways of living and prospering in all sorts of environments. For thousands of years those lives sustained their environment rather than destroying it. Can we find a way of re-adapting our poisoned and depleted Earth and share it with the organisms that ensure our own survival?

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WP_20181129_14_20_54_ProI’m still not writing any Jasmine stories. The fifth novel is on my to-do list, perhaps for later this year. The question  is do I want to write any more short stories – or, can I?  I want to promote the Jasmine Frame series, and I would dearly love higher sales but marketing requires time, energy and skills that I am not sure I possess or can commit. So, would another short story about Jasmine during her transgender transition encourage more readers of this blog and the published books. I don’t know. I need some comments and advice.

I am writing though.  A fantasy novel is developing and there are the weekly assignments for one of my writing groups. This week the topic was “Vegetables”. What’s that all about you ask. Well, it produced quite a variety of responses. Mine is below. It is an allegory, of course, and I know it is not horticulturally accurate. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy it.

The Brassicas

“Oi, Savoy! Have you heard the news?”
Savoy looked at the white head of the caller, from his vantage point at the high end of the field. It was Cauliflower growing in the next plot.
“Are you addressing me?” Savoy replied.
“Yeah, you daft cabbage. I said, have you heard the news?”
“To what news are you referring?” Savoy replied rather upset that Cauliflower may have news before him.
“It came from Neeps, down the end of the field.”
Savoy sighed. The Turnips were always passing on gossip from the neighbouring fields. “What did Neeps tell you?” he asked.
“He didn’t tell me exactly. I heard it from Romanesco.”
Savoy wasn’t surprised. Cauli was often conversing with his green, spiky and attractive relative. Quite improper, Savoy thought, they’d be hybridising before long and who knows what would become of that. “What did Roma tell you?” Savoy said.
“It’s Eric Unwin,” Cauli said, “The farmer.”
“Yes, I know who Unwin is. He’s the EU in EU Farms Ltd. What’s he supposed to be doing now?”
“He’s going to introduce legumes into our field.”
“Legumes!” Savoy almost went pale with apoplexy. His leaves curled. “That can’t be. Neeps must have it wrong. This field is for brassicas; always has, always will.” The days when it was all cabbages and white cauliflowers, and Neeps of course, may have passed. Now there were Reds, Sprouts, Broccoli. Even Kohlrabi and Pak Choi had been introduced, but they were all brassicas.
“There’s no need to bust your stem,” Cauli said, “I’m just telling you what Neeps told Roma.”
“I must speak to Neeps, myself.” Savoy was feeling quite out of sorts as if his roots and absorbed some heavy metal salts. He hailed the bottom of the field. “Hey, down there, Neeps. What’s this about EU planting legumes in our field.
“Och aye,” came the reply, “It’s tha truth. I . . .”
“You can’t believe all that those grains in the next field tell you.”
“A donna. Will ye no lissen tae me?”
“Well, what have you got to say.”
“He’s got canes ready to support them stringy legumes, and there’s seed – Haricot Vert, Mung Beans and. . .”
“Mung Beans!” Savoy exclaimed, “We don’t want them foreigners in our great Brassica field.”
“Well, ye ain’t goin ta have much choice are ye,” Neeps replied.
“This is preposterous,” Savoy said. “We must take action and stop this invasion.”
“I heard that legumes can be quite an asset,” Cauli said quietly, “They’ve got these nodules on their roots that fertilise the soil.”
“I’ll have none of that talk from you, Cauli,” Savoy said, “You can’t be a brassica and be in favour of legumes infiltrating our land.”
A sprout piped up “I think it would be a nice change from that stinking slurry, he uses to fertilise our field.”
“Ve prefer artificial fertiliser,” Kohlrabi said, “Clean and efficient.”
“You can keep out of this,” Savoy said. “You may be a brassica and we’re happy for you to stay but you haven’t been here as long as us cabbages.”
“What are you suggesting then, Savoy?” Cauli asked.
“We have to take back control,” Savoy said, thrusting out his leaves, “Strengthen our borders and keep out these leguminous interlopers before they grow up their canes and steal our light. What do you say Neeps?”
“A dinnae gonna do what tha say you stuffed green. We Neeps will stay part of the farm.”
Savoy blustered “You, you Neeps, you’re just root vegetables, barely brassicas at all. How about you, Red? You’ve been keeping quiet.”
The Red cabbage considered his reply, “We must ensure that the will of the brassicas is respected.”
“What sort of baloney is that?” Cauli called.
“Are you going to support our action or not Red?” Savoy asked.
“I shall put our proposals to the field when the opportunity arises,” Red replied keeping low to the ground.
Cauli had something to ask. “How are you going to withdraw the field from the farm, Savoy?”
Savoy puffed out his leaves. “We shall refuse to take new crops and make new deals for drainage, pesticides and fertiliser.”
“You won’t get a better deal than what the farm provides now,” Cauli replied.
“What do you know?” Savoy retorted.
“As much as you, you snooty cabbage. We’ll be the ones that are harmed by this.”
“The farm needs us more than we need them,” Savoy said.
“I’m not so sure about that. A bit of crop rotation will do us good. Anyway, why should you decide what we do?”
“Over half of us are cabbages. We know what we want.”
A sprout who had been listening and getting worried spoke, “Actually I think you cabbages make up less than a quarter of the whole field.”
“The will of the brassicas hasn’t changed,” Savoy responded furiously. “The field will leave the farm.”

The rains came and the sun shone but the brassicas wilted and withered. Soon there were just decayed roots and rotting leaves. The tractors arrived and ploughed the field. Eric Unwin shrugged. Sometimes crops fail; perhaps the seed was old or had been spoiled or maybe it was a strain that required too much attention. It was time to start over.

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Jasmine is resting

I think I have fallen into an alternative universe where nothing makes sense anymore. Brexit, Parliament, May – need I say more.

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I was given a stark example this week of how the law fails transgender people, those without a Gender Recognition Certificate, that is.  A woman was murdered, a suspect who was arrested was known to her.  That situation is familiar and far more common than it should be. Not something for newspapers to make a fuss about. Except, that when the suspect was taken to court and charged with the murder, the name of the victim read out was male. Despite having lived as a woman for many years the victim p1000037had been outed by the court as transgender.  I don’t know what she would have thought about that if she’d been alive but I think she might have been hurt to have her past existence revealed. Why was it released to the public? Because her female status was not respected by the legal system of the UK.  Only if you possess a Gender Recognition Certificate as a transman or transwoman, are you legally the gender you identify with and have that gender on your birth certificate and death certificate.  I do not know why the murdered woman did not possess a GRC, but there are plenty of reasons she could have given.  In fact only about 5,000 of the 500,000 transgendered people in the UK have a GRC (those figures are very, very approximate). Those figures suggest that obtaining a GRC is seen as a problem by many people living in the gender they identify with. Only those with a GRC have a secure legal status and the respect of the law.  That is why a revision of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act is necessary. I’m not sure whether self-identification as male or female is feasible or likely but I would like to see the option of a non-defined gender available.

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Another writers’ group short story this week.  The given topic was “Stars”.  I was probably expected to produce an SF story and I would have enjoyed that prospect, but I decided to do something a little different. Here is “Star” or possibly “Star-child”. Not sure if it works as a short story.  These days my short stories of around 1000 words read a bit like an excerpt or taster of a longer tale. However, I have enough novels in the machine already.

Star

Her feet were sore and her legs ached, but Papa urged her on.
“Not much further, child. The light is going. Look for some dry twigs for our fire.”
She tugged the fur of the ice bear around herself and looked up. Papa was right. The canopy was dark and there were no longer shafts of sunlight like spears of fire. She followed in Papa’s footsteps surveying the ground for kindling.
It wasn’t long before she noticed a change in the light. Although the day was ending her surroundings were lighter. The light came from between the tall tree trunks not from above. Papa gave a cry and hurried forward. She ran after him grasping her bundle of wood.
It was as if the trees would only grow if they were surrounded by their companions. Suddenly they were out in the open with the forest behind them. She scudded to a halt feeling grass on her legs reaching up to her waist. She turned slowly, seeing the line of conifers behind and ahead the grass plain studded with flowers of every colour. In the distance there was a line where the land stopped. Above it, hung the golden ball of the Sun. She looked up seeing the full dome of the sky for the first time in her life, blue-black above the forest, radiant blue above and red around the Sun.
She felt dizzy. “Papa!”
He ran to her, dropping his spear and scooping her into his arms. “I’m sorry, child. I forgot you have not seen all the sky before. It is dazzling isn’t it?”
“I didn’t know the sky was so big,” she said. “You told me that the gods had taken Mama above the sky. Is she way up there?” She pointed upwards.
“Yes, child, that is what I said.” There was a shake to his voice and a tear was in his eye.
“Thank you, Papa. You can put me down now.” She wriggled.
Chuckling, he set her on her feet. He picked up his flint tipped spear and hitched the boar skin over his shoulder.
“I think I see a stream a bit further on. We’ll camp near there. Come on, child, just a few more steps.”
Soon they came to a lazy, meandering brook with a clump of bushes nearby where the grass didn’t grow as tall. Papa removed the skin from his shoulder, took out the fire pot and carefully lit some tinder. Soon he had a fire started.
“Tend the fire child. I will try and find our supper. Do not wander. This land is unfamiliar to you and me.” He strode off with his spear at his shoulder.
She fed twigs to the fire which burned without smoke. Satisfied that it was alight she turned her attention to the flowers that grew amongst the grasses. She picked those that took her fancy and braided their stems together into a ring which she placed on her head of golden hair. Before the Sun had sunk completely below the horizon, Papa returned dangling a dead rabbit from his fist. He muttered approving noises at the fire and her crown, then sat beside her. She watched as he skinned the creature with his knife with the bronze blade and bone handle. He gave her strips of flesh which she fixed to a stick and held in the flames.
It was quite dark by the time they finished eating. She looked up and gasped. The whole dome of the heavens was studded with points of light.
“The stars, Papa,” she cried, “There are so many.”
Papa looked up too. “Wonderful aren’t they.”
“What are stars, Papa?”
He took a breath. “They are holes in the dome of the heavens through which the gods look down on us.”
She let out a sigh. “Does Mama look down on us too?”
“I’m sure she does. Now child, you must settle to sleep. We have more travelling to do tomorrow.”
She curled up alongside him in the grass, pulling the white fur around her.

She awoke with a start. A noise, a cry, had disturbed her. It was still dark but along with the starlight there was a gibbous Moon low in the sky. Papa was on his feet, two hands gripping his spear. It was pointing at two dark-haired figures clothed in dark furs. They edged towards him, stone axes held aloft. She crouched in the grass, watching.
Something caught her eye, high up. A bright streak shot across the sky. Overhead it exploded with a light bigger and brighter than the Sun. A few heart beats later there came a noise like a lion’s roar and wind blew flattening the grass.
She scrambled to her feet with red spots before her eyes and stepped towards Papa. She pointed to the stars.
“What’s happening, Papa?”
The two dark skinned men were immobile. They took one look at her and fell to their knees. They babbled and bowed their heads towards her.
“What are they saying?” she said. Papa came to her side and rested a hand on her shoulder. His other hand still held the spear.
“I don’t know, child. They speak differently to us but some words I recognise. I heard ‘star’ and ‘child’ and ‘light’. I think they believe you are fallen from the stars. They’re worshipping you.”

……………………………

Jasmine makes a decision

It’s ready to go.  Yes, the next Jasmine Frame case, Molly’s Boudoir is available on pre-order on Amazon for Kindle.  Publication date is 30th November for the e-book edition. Order here  (if you’re in the UK).  The price is £2.99 in the UK with relative prices in other markets. The paperback version  will follow soon after.

The events of Molly’s Boudoir, the 4th Jasmine Frame novel, take place several months after  The Brides’ Club Murder. Jasmine has been called for her Gender Confirmation Surgery which will require weeks of recovery and recuperation. Meanwhile events at Molly’s, a shop in Thirsbury (a small town west of Kintbridge) are reaching a climax resulting in a fire and a murder. Tom Shepherd, now a DI, is the investigating officer and he realises that the business at Molly’s requires Jasmine’s input. With the approval of DCI Sloane, Jasmine is invited to join the case as transgender advisor. Despite not being fully fit Jasmine is soon actively involved and pursuing a line of inquiry which leads her into areas of sexual activity that she is unfamiliar with and puts her new female status under test.

With some violence and sexual content, which you may have come to expect from Jasmine Frame’s cases, Molly’s Boudoir takes Jasmine’s story a stage further.

If you would like a free pre-publication version of Molly’s Boudoir in return for a review on Amazon posted on 30th November, contact me here.

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Visit us next week for news of some special offers!

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It’s been a momentous week in the Brexit saga.  It’s total chaos with no-one in power taking responsibility to admit that the paradoxes are unresolvable and the voters must be given the opportunity to vote again, this time with the correct facts.  That’s it. I’m not saying any more. For now.

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Finally here is the next episode of Monochrome, the Jasmine Frame prequel.  The events in this story take place five years before Molly’s Boudoir when Jasmine is still unsure of her gender status.

Monochrome: Part 4

It was a tale Jasmine had read about but had not heard described by the victim. She struggled to accept that it was real.
Angela continued questioning the girl, her tone suggesting she could hardly believe the story herself. ‘Those disgusting men left you alone and drove away?’
The girl nodded. ‘Yeah. Tipped me out of the back, threw my clothes at me and went off.’
‘What did you do?’ Angela asked.
‘Got dressed of course. It was fucking freezing.’
‘Yes, I’m sure it was. What then? Did you set off somewhere?’
‘How could I? I didn’t know where the fuck I was. It was pitch black. I just wandered along the track until I got to this place.’
‘You broke in,’ Jasmine said.
The girl looked belligerent. ‘I didn’t have to break anything. The window was open. I only had to climb in.’
‘You stayed the night? Angela asked.
‘Yeah. There was a duvet on the bed. I rolled myself in it and got warm. I slept. Best night’s sleep I’ve had for yonks.’
‘Why?” Angela said, showing surprise at the girl’s statement.
‘It was dead quiet. I didn’t have the fucking neighbour’s kid screaming all night or my mam moaning. I slept so well I nearly got caught.’
‘By whom?’ Jasmine asked.
‘Some woman. I heard her fiddling with a key in the lock. I just managed to get into the bathroom before she got in. I went out of the window and waited till she left.’
‘It must have been Mrs Williams getting the cottage ready for us,’ Angela said. Jasmine nodded in agreement.
‘Then what did you do?’ she asked.
The girl looked pleased with herself. ‘Climbed back in, of course. The woman had left some food – bread and milk. I really thought my luck was in. It filled me up that did.’
‘So that’s why there wasn’t anything here when we arrived,’ Angela said to Jasmine. ‘I knew Mrs Williams said there would be some basic supplies here for us.’ She turned to the girl “You didn’t leave then?’
The girl shook her head. ‘Why should I? It was nice and warm.’
‘Mrs Williams put the heating on for us,’ Jasmine said.
‘Yeah, I s’pose it was all for you,’ the girl said. ‘When I heard your car, I realised I’d better scat.’
‘But you didn’t go, did you?’ Jasmine said. ‘What did you do for the night?’
‘I hung around outside and when I heard you go to bed, I climbed back into your bathroom, real quiet like. I stayed there until it got light.’
‘You were in our bathroom all night, while we were in the bedroom!’ Angela cried. The girl nodded.’
‘Lucky for you, neither of us needed the loo,’ Jasmine said.
‘I suppose you came back in when we left for our walk,’ Angela said.
The girl nodded.
‘Ate our beans and took my jumper,’ Jasmine accused. The girl smiled defiantly. ‘And I expect you thought you’d do the same today.’
‘Yeah. I got careless though. I wasn’t expecting you back so early.’
‘It was raining,’ Angela explained.
The girl shrugged, ‘Can’t say I noticed. It was nice and comfy staying in. Don’t know what you’re doing going out when it’s this miserable.’
‘We’re getting some fresh air and exercise,’ Jasmine said. ‘How much of our food have you eaten today?’
‘Nothing. Well, just some crisps. I was going to have another tin of beans, but you came back.’
‘You haven’t had much to eat at all since you got here, have you? Not real food. You must be hungry,’ Angela said.
‘A bit. I’m always fucking starving.’
Angela stood up. ‘Well, I think you need a proper meal. I was cooking spag bol tonight. I’m sure there’s enough for three. First though I think we need coffee. Jasmine?’
‘Yes, but don’t you think we should get this girl to the police station?’
The girl leapt up and ran to a corner of the room. She crouched making herself as small as possible. ‘Don’t fucking dump me on the fuzz.’
‘That’s the right thing to do,’ Jasmine said, ‘They’ll investigate and arrest these men who’ve been abusing you.’
The girl shook her head. ‘No! They won’t believe me. They’ll say I just broke into this place to steal stuff. They don’t care about what men do.’
Jasmine realised that as well as physically and sexually abusing the girl, the men had also brainwashed her into thinking that they were above the law, that no-one would believe her story, so it was no point telling anyone in authority. She had read about it in so many cases. How else could so many boys and girls be exploited by so many men?
She approached the girl slowly, held out her hands to her.
‘I’m sorry. Don’t be frightened. I understand. Now I do. Look, we won’t go to the police. Not straight away.’ She coaxed the girl out of the corner, took her hand and guided her back to the sofa.
‘What are you suggesting, Jas?’ Angela said.
Jasmine wasn’t sure what was going through her mind. She started explaining, nevertheless.
‘We’ve got to help her but she’s right. It takes more than one victim telling a story of child sex exploitation before police officers take it seriously. Evidence is needed; not just other victims; things to corroborate their stories.’
Angela joined in. ‘Do you mean, we’ve got to get that evidence for her to be listened to?’
Jasmine nodded. Angela considered. They stared at each other, understanding each other’s thoughts. Moments of silence passed by. The girl watched them both. At last Angela spoke.
‘Okay. We’ll do it. I don’t know how, but I couldn’t spend the rest of our holiday here knowing that we’d handed her back to be abused some more.’
‘And worse,’ Jasmine added.
‘What are you two on about?’ the girl said.
Jasmine faced her. ‘We’re going to try and get your abusers arrested and ensure that when you leave here that you will be safe.’
‘How are yer going to do that?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘I don’t know yet. We’ll think about a plan.’
‘Meanwhile, I’ll make coffee and dinner,’ Angela said.
‘And you will tell us your name,’ Jasmine said.
‘Er, it’s Nat.’
‘Nat?’ Angela said.
‘My Mum called me Natasha, but Nat could be Nathan too, couldn’t it?’
Jasmine nodded, ‘If you really wanted to be a boy, yes it could. Okay Nat. There’s something you can do while we’re waiting to eat.’
‘Er?’
‘You could have a shower.’
The girl looked surprised. ‘Are you saying I stink?
Jasmine laughed, ‘To put it bluntly. Yes.’
‘I’ll put your clothes in the washer,’ Angela said.
‘I ain’t got any others.’
‘I know that,’ Angela sighed, ‘You can borrow my dressing gown, and some of my clothes. They’re big for you but I don’t think you’ll mind a thick jumper that’s a bit loose on you.’
The girl looked goggle eyed. ‘Are you really going to look after me?’
Jasmine and Angela nodded together.

……………………to be continued.

Jasmine hears a tale

Phew! A majority of Americans have slowed the Trump/Republican goosestep towards right wing dictatorship.  I don’t fully understand the American government system but with the Democrats winning the House of Representatives perhaps a stalemate will ensue. Just so long as the Law of Unexpected Consequences doesn’t operate and something occurs that no-one wants or expects. Trump’s press conference fracas is one.

To home, and an article in last weekend’s Guardian. It concerned the work of the Tavistock Clinic in London, which assesses and treats children with gender dysphoria, together with the recent ITV series Butterfly, which told the story of a family with an MtF child. I was disappointed with the Guardian’s editing of the piece. It struck me that it allowed a group of people, largely parents, to spout untruths as if they were facts with no real “balance”  (how you can have balance between truth and lies I don’t know). The main complaint against the Tavistock was that it doesn’t provide a service for 16-25 year olds. Well, no it doesn’t.  16 year olds are adults in terms of medical care and, yes, we know there isn’t enough cash in the NHS to provide care for all the people with gender issues. The Tavistock itself has seen its number of patients rise in the last ten years from under 100 a year to nearly 2000. It certainly doesn’t push children into non-reversible treatment. Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) is not carried out on the NHS on under 16s.

Butterfly was a relatively sensible look at the issue and was advised by Mermaids, the charity for transgender children. Only in the third and last episode with a bit of fraud and a dash to the USA did it get unrealistically dramatic. The arguments for and against Max/Maxine were well-rehearsed and generally answered. It showed how long it takes for a child to get an appointment to be assessed. It showed the depth of the questioning to understand the cause and degree of motivation of the child, and it showed that patients are not immediately handed drugs to delay puberty. It exercised the view (spoken by a grandparent) that perhaps Max was a just a gay boy and showed that that was not the case but revealed that at least society has moved on to largely accept teens can be gay.  It dealt with the question about whether being a girl was truly Maxine’s idea or whether she had been pushed into it by her sister and mother who had accommodated or encouraged her wish to dress girly.

The critics of the show missed all these vital scenes and put forward all the false arguments that show that they were displaying their own prejudices and not considering their own children who may have gone through the trauma of gender dysphoria. To make the points once more:

  • Gender identity is not sexuality. Gender is about who you feel yourself to be. A child with a male body may feel themselves to be a girl or vice versa. Some, like myself may feel themselves to be somewhere in between, not identifying with the stereotypes at either end of the gender spectrum.  Sexuality is about who turns you on, who you want to fuck.
  • Gender identity and therefore, in some children, gender dysphoria, arises from the age of 3 or 4. Perhaps 1% of the population feel a mismatch between their physical sex and gender identity. This feeling may become a realisation that they are trans or gender-queer at any age.
  • Children are quick to learn what their parents, families, society, consider important, or disgusting or unspeakable. Becoming gender dysphoric is not sudden, but someone, even a child, may keep it to themselves for years before something forces them to reveal it.
  • Unless you are adult and have lots of cash, you cannot change your physical or legal gender quickly. The NHS is so hard-pressed it may take a year to get a first meeting with a gender specialist.  There will be a long period of assessment before any treatment is offered. There are many opportunities to turn back. Only if the patient is found to be mentally stable will an adult be allowed to go for GRS.
  • The number of children who have revealed that they are transgender, or gender-queer has grown ten-fold in the last few years but they still make up much less than 1% of their age-group. They and us older gender-questioning people are a tiny minority. Only by the understanding of the vast number of people who have never questioned their gender, can we have our right to life upheld. Traditionally the support of gay people has been important but with some lesbians siding with the radical feminists who deny that transwomen are women, the unity of the LGBT+ community is not secure.

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Layout 1I have received the final formatted versions of Molly’s Boudoir back from Alnpete and so it is go for publication of the Kindle version on 30th November with the paperback version available soon after. I’ll be sending review copies very soon so if you would like to receive one (free in return for an Amazon review on 30th Nov.)  then please contact me here.

The third episode of the Painted Ladies prequel short story, Monochrome, follows. We’re getting to the nub of the story here.

Monochrome: Part 3

Jasmine and Angela waited for the girl to begin but she seemed intent on gazing at Jasmine. Jasmine was impatient to hear her story but before she could urge her to talk, the girl spoke.
‘Are you trying to be a woman?’
‘I’m not trying to be anything,’ Jasmine answered irritably.
“Yes, you are. You’re a bloke but you’re dressed like a girl and wearing a wig.’
Jasmine sighed. ‘I’m trans. Sometimes I’m female and sometimes I’m male.’
The girl screwed up her face. ‘That’s weird.’ She turned to face Angela. ‘But you let him fuck you?’
Angela frowned. She wouldn’t be perturbed by the coarse language but Jasmine wondered how she would answer.
‘We love each other, that’s why we’re married. Jasmine has issues about her gender, but that doesn’t bother me.’
The girl looked puzzled. Which of those concepts troubled her Jasmine wondered – her muddled gender identity or being in love.’
‘You’re a girl,’ Angela said gently. Jasmine thought the statement wasn’t as obvious as it might be because while she was obviously physically female she had a masculine look about her. ‘but you dress boyish.’
‘I wish I was a guy,’ she said.
‘Why?’ Angela asked.
‘Things are easier for boys.’
Jasmine’s impatience won through. ‘Enough of this. What’s your name and why are breaking and entering our cottage.’
‘It’s not your cottage. It’s a holiday place.’
Jasmine waved her hands in frustration. ‘Okay, yes we’ve hired it. But while we’re here it’s ours. Now answer my questions.’
‘I was here first,’ she said.
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I was staying here before you arrived the day before yesterday.’
‘Not legally you weren’t. How did you get in?’
‘Through the window in there, of course,’ she pointed to the shower room. The room which Jasmine had thought was too small for anything but a kid to get through. In fact, she wasn’t much more than a kid.
Angela spoke softly, ‘Tell us why you were staying here. Why aren’t you at home?’
The girl snorted. ‘Home! Why I should I stay there? Damp hole and a drug-addled mother. That’s my home.’
‘Where is it?’ Angela asked.
‘Haverfordwest.’
‘That’s twenty miles away,’ Jasmine said. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘They dumped me here.’
‘They?’ Jasmine and Angela said in unison.
‘The guys that shoved me in their car and drove here.’
Jasmine’s eyebrows shot up. ‘Some men abducted you?’
The girl shrugged. ‘Nah, not really. They’d had enough of me.’
‘What do you mean, love?’ Angela said, her question hesitant as if fearing the answer.
‘Enough of pouring cider down my throat and fucking me.’
Angela gasped and Jasmine reached for the girl’s arm. ‘Do you mean that? These men were having sex with you?’
‘Yeah, that’s it. They took it in turns.’
Jasmine felt as though she was in her nightmare. She was back at the police station in their claustrophobic cubicle going through computer records and websites. How many times had she heard this story; a young girl being passed between older men, given alcohol or drugs and made to have sex with them.
‘No, it can’t be happening here too,’ Jasmine cried.
‘Doesn’t it go on everywhere?’ the girl said calmly.
‘Didn’t you say no when they asked for sex?’ Angela asked.
The girl laughed. ‘They didn’t ask. They just did it. Okay at first they were nice, gave me cider and some new clothes. I felt really grown up. Then they started to touch me up. Well, that’s fair enough isn’t it. You gotta pay for stuff. Then they wanted me to feel their cocks. I wasn’t in a position to say no, was I. There was four of them and just me. And I was woozy.’
‘This was a few days ago; before they drove you out here,’ Angela said, her face white.
‘Nah. That was months ago. They moved on to fucking since then.’
‘The same four men?’ Jasmine enquired.
The girl shrugged, ‘Them and others. They sort of passed me around, took their turns.’
‘But what did your family do about it?’ Angela said in an anguished tone.
‘I told you. I’ve only got me Mam. She’s out of it most of the time. They gave her some stuff to keep her quiet.’
‘What about school?’
‘I went most days.’
‘Didn’t the teachers wonder what was wrong with you?’
‘There wasn’t anything wrong with me. Except for a hangover now and then.’
‘But you were being raped by all these men.’
‘Yeah, well that’s normal isn’t. It’s what blokes do. It’s what girls are for innit.’
‘It damn well is not,’ Angela said. ‘You should have gone to the Police.’
‘Why? What would they do? Do you think I was the first and only girl these guys had? The fuzz couldn’t give a fuck.’
‘Some of us do,’ Jasmine said.
The girl looked at him with wide eyes. ‘You’re a cop?’ Jasmine nodded. The girl laughed and laughed and laughed.
‘What’s funny?’ Jasmine asked feeling as if she was missing something.
“A tranny cop! That’s a brilliant joke,’ the girl said through her continuing giggles.
‘They don’t know I’m trans,’ Jasmine admitted.
‘Oh, you’ve got a secret too. What will happen if the bosses find out about you?’
‘Let’s get back to you,’ Angela said. ‘If these men have been, um, using you, why did they dump you out here.’
The girl looked at Angela with sad eyes, sad that Angela should ask such a stupid question.
‘They got fed up with me.’
‘Bored with having sex with a minor,’ Jasmine said.
‘Maybe,’ the girl shrugged, ‘there’s always another little tart to fuck. But, the main reason was I made them do it.’
‘What did you do?’ Angela asked.
‘I cut my hair and started dressing in jeans and sloppy shorts instead of the little dresses they liked to see me in.’
‘Why?’
‘I thought that if I looked more like a boy they’d treat me like a boy.’
‘Why be a boy?’ Jasmine asked.
‘I told you. Boys have it easy. They get to give the orders, have the money and the girls.’
Angela spoke. ‘You thought that if you looked like a boy, men would treat you like a boy.’
‘I s’pose that was it. Stupid really. Didn’t go as I expected.’
‘Why not?’ Jasmine asked even though she thought that the girl’s scheme was wildly optimistic.
‘They knew I was girl, didn’t they, and some of them liked the idea of fucking me like they did boys.’
Angela let out a gasp as she realised the extent of the abuse the young boys and girls experienced. It was all too familiar to Jasmine and she felt sickened to be hearing it from the girl’s own mouth.
‘Is that what they did?’
For the first time the girl looked embarrassed. ‘Yeah. They hurt me. I lost it a bit.’
‘What do you mean?’ Angela said.
‘I hit one of them.’
‘What did they do?’ Jasmine asked, nervous of the expected answer.
‘Slapped me around. Not on my face of course, not somewhere obvious. Shoved me in a van with my clothes and dumped me out here.’

……………………………..to be continued

Jasmine in her own words

WP_20181018_15_35_38_ProYesterday (Friday 20th Oct.) was the closing day of the consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act.  When the GRA became law in 2004 it was hailed as a huge advance for transsexual people.  For the first time transsexual people were recognised in law and they acquired the right to change their birth certificates to match the gender they identified with and lived as. The rights of holders of a Gender Recognition Certificate were given further confirmation by the Equality Act of 2010 which included gender reassignment (i.e. those people holding a GRC) as a protected minority.

However to acquire those rights transgendered people have to submit themselves to medical examination. A diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria is the first hurdle. This is followed by at least two years of living full-time in the gender they identify with and the intention to take the medication and undergo the surgery at some point.  When the last occurs depends for most people on the length of the NHS waiting list for gender reassignment (or confirmation) surgery. Further surgery e.g. breast enhancement, facial feminisation, etc. is rarely carried out on the NHS. Thanks to the complexity (and cost) of applying for a GRC it is estimated that only about 5,000 people (transmen and women) have actually received it in the last 14 years.  The total number of transgendered people in the UK is probably somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million. For some time there has been pressure to update the Act and make it easier for transsexual people to achieve their aims.

Many transgender people do not wish to be medicalised and wish to self-declare their gender, if indeed they identify with a binary gender at all. Some transsexual people do not feel it necessary to surgically or medically alter their bodies but wish to have their gender identity recognised in law. Unfortunately, it is not just transgendered people who are involved in this consultation. Women (with some male supporters) have objected to loosening the medical constraints on transitioning and in fact, many women in this group, deny the right of transwomen to declare themselves as women. Most of these opponents to change want the law kept as it is while some, I am sure, would like to see the Act repealed and transsexual people returned to the limbo they existed in before 2004. Their reasons for this position is a perceived threat to women from allowing transwomen to enter their “safe” spaces such as ladies’ loos. I don’t think there has ever been a case, anywhere in the world, of a transwoman raping a woman in a female washroom. If indeed such a case ever occurred it would be ridiculous to tar all transwomen with the same rapist brush. Whatever the state of the GRA there is nothing to stop a man putting on a female disguise in order to attack women anywhere.  A transwoman is not a man in a frock.

The silly thing is that transwomen are on the same side as women in general in wanting to feel safe from attack and in wanting equality in all fields of life. The anger with which some women have attacked transgender people is startling and terrifying.  Some transgender activists have responded in kind and have campaigned to stop the women’s arguments being aired. I do not support that. Freedom of speech means just that, but there is no freedom to hate. All people should have the opportunity to express their opinion and explain their position. They should only be silenced if they threaten another person.

I hope the GRA is simplified and I hope that the women opposing transpeople do not get their way. In fact I hope that women will recognise transpeople as their supporters. I am not transsexual so not affected by changes to the GRA and am not likely to have my wishes answered – i.e. the ability to declare myself of neither gender, or both. Jasmine, however is.  Here is what she has to say.

“Hi, I’m Jasmine Frame. I’m a woman and I can prove it. I have a Gender Recognition Certificate and a vagina. But it hasn’t always been so clear-cut. 

I started feeling that my concept of gender was different to my classmates just before I became a teenager, when puberty was firing off all around me. Prior to that I hadn’t really thought about what I was. I had an older sister, Holly, so I quite happily played girly games like dressing up with her. I wasn’t interested in boy’s sports like football or cricket but I got into athletics at quite an early age. I had friends that were boys and girls who accepted me for being me, but gender rarely seemed to come into it. Then as the boys and girls around me started to change and things began happening to my body It came to me that I was going to be a man and I wasn’t sure I wanted that.  I learned pretty quickly that wearing feminine clothes wasn’t acceptable in a teenage boy so began to do it secretly. Holly was the first one to discover that and she helped me develop my dual persona of James and Jasmine. I realised I was transgender but was I transsexual or a transvestite? I didn’t know.

Meeting Angela at university was a liberation but also, perhaps, allowed me to put off a decision. Angela loved me as James and as Jasmine and was happy to be seen with either. I was happy having sex as a man although with the desire to experience it as a woman. Deciding to join the police in 2004 seemed, at the time, to be a decision time. I would be a man who liked cross-dressing in my spare time. But I was wrong. The need to be female didn’t go away. Angela recognised it as much as I did, probably sooner than me.  So in 2010 I decided to transition and Angela and I parted regretfully. The police, in theory, were obliging but I met obstacles from some of my colleagues. I resigned in 2012 having started on the process of becoming the woman I felt myself to be and set out to earn a living as a private investigator. Now every experience, every medical and surgical treatment, strengthened my identity as a woman (well, there were some cases that forced me to think about my position). Now that I have completed all the surgery I need and want (I have to take the hormones for the rest of my life) I am certain that I am a woman. I can’t say exactly what a woman is, after all, we are all different with various characteristics, personalities and emotions. I can’t give birth and that Y chromosome still lurks in every cell of my body but the X chromosome is there. 

Getting the GRC was a long drawn out process. Living as a woman while still retaining most of my male characteristics was difficult. We are always on edge, wondering if this or that stranger is going to take offence at our existence. Even now when a simple examination  of my lower region would convince most people that I am a woman, I am still wary of the person who looks closely at my broad shoulders, narrow pelvis (only slightly broadened by the fat the hormones move around the body) and somewhat masculine nose and jaw line. Nevertheless, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with women, for women’s rights and equality with men in all fields. I am a woman.”

Read about Jasmine’s transition and life as a woman in the Jasmine Frame novels and novellas.

Painted Ladies front cover jpeg…………………………